Chapter #374: Camping at Mojave Preserve in 2020 - September 6, 2020

A clear sky and white, puffy clouds above the Hole in the Wall Campground at the Mojave National Preserve - Click for larger image (https://jamesmcgillis.com)

2020 Closure of All Mojave National Preserve Campgrounds and Facilities

By March 2020, the current health crisis had burst out like a California brush fire. On March 19, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a “stay-at-home” order for the entire state. Only essential services were to remain open. Under that order, residents were to stay at home and venture out only for essential purposes, such as food, medical care or if one’s work was deemed essential. Mobile dog grooming did not appear on the “essentials” list, yet mobile dog groomers plied many streets.

The Hole In The Wall Campground closed in March 2020, due to the ongoing pandemic - Click for larger image (https://jamesmcgillis.com)Having already planned a winter camping trip to the Mojave National Preserve, I contemplated cancelling that annual tradition. In those early days of the pandemic, different jurisdictions were struggling to determine their best course of action. When I visited the Mojave Preserve website, they had closed all visitor centers, but their developed campgrounds remained open.

With my self-contained RV, I could carry everything I needed for three nights of dry camping in the desert. My favorite winter camping spot is Hole-in-the-Wall Campground, 267-miles from our home in Simi Valley. With luck, my only contact with others would be at fuel stops in Barstow and again at Ludlow, just off Interstate I-40. With two five-gallon fuel containers stowed in the back of my pickup truck, I would have plenty of fuel for day trips and exploring remote desert sites. For the entire trip, I planned not to visit restrooms, convenience stores or any other indoor venue. While pumping fuel, I planned to wear gloves and my bandana as a mask.

My portable generator is great for recharging the house batteries on my RV after a full day of use - Click for larger image (https://jamesmcgillis.com)On March 22, I hit the road. Including two fuel stops, the whole journey took less than seven hours. Upon my arrival, I found a perfect campsite, along the edge and away from other campers. I had my portable generator, solar panels and storage batteries for power. I had enough propane to run the furnace and refrigerator. My fresh water tank was full.

Although it was already spring, a cold storm had recently swept the area. As the sun set early behind The Universal Reflector, the air temperature cooled rapidly. Before sunrise, the outdoor temperature would dip to near freezing. I was comfortable and secure in my self-contained isolation pod. On my first full day, I planned to remain in camp, except to take a couple of short hikes.

The 200-watt solar panel attached to the roof of my RV produces adequate electrical power for off-grid camping - Click for larger image (https://jamesmcgillis.com)At mid afternoon, I changed plans and drove north from the campground and up the muddy dirt track called Black Canyon Road. About five miles north, I turned westat Wild Horse Canyon Road. After I passed the turn-off to Mid Hills Campground, the road narrowed. A prominent sign read, “Four Wheel Drive Only”. Realizing that the sun was sinking toward the horizon, I hurried to complete the loop back to my campsite before sundown. During my entire trip of about fifteen miles, I did not see another human or vehicle.

On the second half of the loop, the road crosses a ravine and later runs down the middle of an arroyo. Where the road crosses the ravine, I encountered a bovine traffic jam. Three yearling calves, and two horned cows were crossing the road. Leading the herd, the mother cows had surmounting the adjoining Hardy brown calves are well adapted to the harsh environment of the Mojave National Preserve - Click for larger image (https://jamesmcgillis.com)hillside. Not wanting to scare the calves, I stopped my truck and waited. One cow stood watching the scene from summit of the hill. As if they had never encountered a motor vehicle, the calves stood in the road. They appeared to be in awe of my big, growly diesel truck. I sat patiently, but with the engine running. This far from my camp, the last thing I wanted was a stalled vehicle.

Soon, the sturdy calves made their way, one at a time, to the top of the hill. I was in the high desert, with an elevation of up to 5,600 feet at Mid Hills Campground. From November to April, most nights are at or below freezing. In the summer, temperatures often rise above 100 f degrees. There was no shelter for miles around. I marveled that these animals appeared to be so well adapted to their harsh environment.

This Cal Fire pickup truck served double duty as a ranger vehicle at the Mojave National Preserve - Click for larger image (https://jamesmcgillis.com)On the following morning, I enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee in camp. As I contemplated where to hike or explore that day, there was a rap on my door. When I answered, I encountered a female ranger, standing about fifteen feet away. “We are closing the campground”, she said. “Everyone needs to leave before 2 PM”. “Why are you shutting down?” I asked. “Everyone else is shutting down, so we are too” was her answer. “Everyone has to leave as soon as possible”, she said with authority. “You can camp on open land, at an existing campsite, but not here in the campground”.

Having planned to stay another night, I was determined to find a suitable place. I scouted several campsites that were near the road, but none of them looked inviting to me. At one point, I made the mistake of driving my rig to the end of a dirt track, only to find it occupied by another camper. Ingloriously, My final day in the campground at the Mojave National Preserve before all facilities were closed in March 2020 - Click for larger image (https://jamesmcgillis.com)I had to back my rig up several hundred yards. When I reached the end of that strenuous task, I turned too sharply, impinging the fifth-wheel hitch on the bed of my truck.

The damage was slight, but my judgment had been faulty. Never take a rig down a road that you are unsure of, I reminded myself. After that, I made my way toward a level area near the end of my previous day’s loop-road journey. My rig is tall and top-heavy, but I was beyond my better judgment. I determined that I could surmount the rise in the rough road and have an idyllic spot to camp for my final night. Going in was not difficult. Although there was one campsite occupied nearby, my own campsite had a 360-degree view and the peace and solitude I desired.

My remote campsite at the Mojave National Preserve, in March 2020, after the campgrounds closed for the pandemic - Click for a larger image (https://jamesmcgillis.com)The next morning, I prepared my rig and headed back up the dirt track to Black Canyon Road. I shifted my truck into four-wheel drive and crawled along in low-range. The previous afternoon, on my way into camp, I had seen some car campers setting up in a big dry wash. I had looked at them as if they were crazy. Any experienced camper knows not to camp in a dry wash. Flash floods are all too common in the desert. At the time, those campers had looked at me as if I was crazy for driving such a huge rig over the rough road to my destination.

On my way back out to the paved road, my right-front wheel lifted off the ground, meaning that my rig was tilting badly to the left, behind me. I pressed on. My front wheel returned to the ground and the rig leveled out. As I passed the arroyo, I looked at the campers again as if they were crazy to have spent the night there. They looked at me, astonished that I was able to get my rig back to the highway.

Another view of my remote campsite at the Mojave National Preserve in March 2020 - Click for larger image (https://jamesmcgillis.com)In the end, it all worked out OK for everyone. At that time, I had wanted to stay another to stay another night in the peace and quiet of the Mojave Desert. If presented with the same circumstances today, I would opt for cutting short my visit to the Mojave National Preserve.

As of early September 2020, due to National Park Service orders, all visitor centers, campgrounds, pit toilets, the Lava Tube and the Zzyzx area are closed. Please plan accordingly and travel safely. Emergency response times may be much longer than usual. As of December 2021, the Hole in the Wall Campground and Visitor Center are open once again.

Email James McGillis
Email James McGillis

By James McGillis at 05:12 PM | Mojave Desert | Link

Blog Search

 →  Recent Posts

Snow in Death Valley National Park
The Colorado River's Demise - 2023
The Four Corners Region - Part 5
The Four Corners Region - Part 4
The Four Corners Region - Part 3
The Four Corners Region - Part 2
The Four Corners Region - Part 1
Mammoth Lakes, Summer 2020
Morro Bay, CA - Fire Season 2020
Camping at Panamint Springs, Part 2
Camping at Panamint Springs, Part 1
Camping at Mojave Preserve in 2020
Death Valley Winter Camping 2019
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 5
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 4
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 3
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 2
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 1
Planned Desecration of The Book Cliffs
Thompson Springs, Utah - History
Visit Historic Thompson Springs, Utah
Santa Susana Field Lab Contamination
Classmate Bob Lovejoy (1948 - 2018)
Titus Canyon and Titanothere Canyon
2018 - Is The Future a Mirage?
Return of the Moab Burro Crane
Moab - Desert Rocks Festival 2011
Moab, UT - Negro Bill Canyon Remains
Yosemite High Country Devastation
Furnace Creek - Death Valley, Calif.
Zabriskie Point - Death Valley, Calif.
Crescent Junction, Utah - New History
NTSB Final Report Omits Critical Data
Winter Camping in the Mojave Desert
2017 - Burbank Rose Parade Float
Sarah Thomas - World Record Swim
A Family Visit to Kaua'i, Hawaii in 1988
2016 - Cow Springs, AZ Trading Post
Metrolink - Meager Track Maintenance
'16 Beverly Hills Concours d'Elegance
It's Time to Audit Metrolink Operations
Ventura County - Deadly Rail Collision
Ventura County, CA - Rail Safety 2016
Metrolink Ignores Mismatched Brakes
Agencies Ignore Rail Safety Issues
Nevada - Vote Now to Bring Back Solar
Ventura County Rail Deaths Scandal
Google Pop Car- Rail Safety Plan
BNSF Locomotives on Metrolink Trains
2015 - Time to Phase Out Lake Powell
Navajo Power Plant Heat Island Effect
Of Mudflats and Methane Volcanoes
Metrolink Anti-Derailment Blade Failure
Metrolink to Spend $338 Million
The Glenn Steele Memorial Overpass
5th & Rice - A Deadly Railroad Crossing
The One, the Only - Plush Kokopelli
Metrolink Train Crash, A Personal Story
Moab, Utah - Lions Club Park - Part 2
Moab, Utah - Lions Club Park - Part 1
Deadly Crude Oil Trains Coming Soon
Metrolink Oxnard Train Collision Report
2015 Rare California Rain Barrels Help
So. California Lakes Soon to Disappear
C.Proietto - Cattolica, Cafe Eden Roco
Hollywood: "Violence is the New Sex"
2014 Spanish Valley Vineyards
Durango & Silverton Railroad Story
Is it Too Late to Save Moab, Utah?
BLM & SITLA - URLEA Subterfuge
Moab Pile to be "Moab Pit" - 2029
Moab in Springtime - May 2014
Old Mesquite, NV - Gone For Good
I-15 North - Mojave Desert Tour
Grand Co. Plans to Desecrate Site
Moab - County Plans Fail the Test
2014 - Quantum Leap in ATM Theft
Moab Kiley - Peaceful BLM Protest
Stop The BLM-SITLA Land Swap
Utah Recreational Land Exchange
Burro Cranes - A Complete History
Moab Burro at Seven Mile Canyon
Brightsource Solar's Flawed Design
Trend - Horsepower Mitigation Fees
Moab Rim Campark Sold in 2014
Durango, CO - Engine #478 - 1965
Durango, CO - Engine #476 - 1965
Red Lake Trading Post, Tonalea, AZ
Deconstruction at Cow Springs, AZ
Cow Springs, Navajo Art - 2013
Navajo/Hopi, New Energy Dilemma
Peabody Coal Stripmine Disappears
An Arizona River Dies in the Desert
Black Mesa Coal - Water & Power
2013 - The Great Western Drought
Homolovi State Park, AZ - No Ruins
C.Proietto Paints at Lago Maggiore
American Bison Herd Threatened
I-40, Twin Arrows - Both Old & New
Simi Valley Brush Fire - Air Power
I-40: Highway Tax Dollars At Work
Kristi Frazier - World Citizen Award
Sierra Nevada, CA - 2013 Drought
Desolation Canyon Wilderness Area
The Holbrook Basin Potash Project
Moab - Revisit Seven Mile Canyon
Moab - Greater Canyonlands N.M.
Thomas Kinkade - Yosemite Valley
C.Proietto Paints Lugano, Gandria
Paso Robles, CA - Wine Adventure
Colorado River Dine & Unwind Moab
Kodiak 100 --> Moab Charter Flight
The True Cost of Mineral Extraction
Moab Truck - 1950 Chevy 3100
Disappearance --> Reemergence
Edward Abbey - His Spirit Returns
Edward Abbey - Monkey Wrenching
Edward Abbey - Lake Powell 1965
Edward Abbey - Desert Solitaire 65
A New Message From AAMikael
C.Proietto Paints Bad Kreuznach
New Jersey - The New Atlantis?
Moab - A Rare Beech B-45 (T-34A)
Howell Mountain, CA - Winemaking
Oakville, CA - Robt. Mondavi Wines
Crescent Junction, UT - in 1955
Craig Childs - Apocalyptic Planet
Mammoth Lakes, CA - 1st. Snowfall
Mesquite, NV - A Disappearing Act
The Mystery of Hovenweep Road
Moab Airport - Canyonlands Field
Moab, UT - Save Ken's Lake Puddle
Jeeps & Downtown Abbey in Moab
Moab Valley vs. Spanish Valley, UT
Moab, Utah - Go Behind the Rocks
Moab Adventure Xstream Race '12
Face on Mars - Is it John Lennon?
C.Proietto - Paints The Dolomites
Moab Tower - The Wireless Story
Brendel, Utah - A History Mystery
C.Proietto - New Mystery Painting
Tsunami Risks Up in Crescent Bays
"Moab Native" Potash Comments
C.Proietto - And The Glory of Rome
L.A. to Australia, by 34-ft. Sailboat
Interstate I-70 East through Utah
Mesquite, NV - Opportunity Lost?
Las Vegas, NV "Drive-by" - I-15N
Ivanpah Valley, CA - Mega-Solar
Pearblossom Hwy. - Palmdale Road
C.Proietto - Venice Sunset, Sunrise
24-Hours of Moab 2012 to Happen
C.Proietto - A Portrait of the Artist
AOL & Yahoo Mail Getting Hacked
ATM Retail Technology - New & Old
C.Proietto - Solving An Art Mystery
Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA
Hollywood - To The Sign & Beyond
Hollywood - Legendary Paul Pink's
Kokopelli Credit Union - New ATM
#1 Google Ranking & How to Get It
C.Proietto - Two New Oil Paintings
LACoFD Truck 8 at Hollywood Bowl
I-405 Golden Crane Air Hazard
Beware: Hoax/Scam Phishing Sites
A Quantum Leap in Super PAC $$$
I-405 Mulholland Bridge Update
Moab Skydiving Video - May 2011
Tonopah Desert, AZ Thunderstorm
Anticline Overlook - Ancient Spirit
ATM Bank Robbery Now Easier Still
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
Chaco Canyon - Kin Klizhin Sunset
Chaco Canyon - Kin Klizhin Ruin
Chaco Canyon, Spirit of Lizard Man
Chaco Canyon, NM - Campground
White Mesa, Utah - Uranium Mill
Hidden Costs in Biofuels Revealed
Arches National Park Threatened
Moab Rail - The U. P. Potash Local
Toxic Purple Dust Covers Moab, UT
U.S. Highway 191 in Moab, Utah
Kindle Fire Tablet vs. Nook Tablet
Ken's Lake 2011 Update, Moab, UT
24-Minutes of Moab Kids Bike Race
24-Hrs. of Moab, The Final Sunset?
24-Hours of Moab 2011 Race Start
24-Hrs. of Moab Race Live Webcam
The Long Run - Eagles Tribute Band
Petrified Forest, Going, Going, Gone
Nuclear Dust Storm Hits Moab, UT
Moab Rainbow - August 1, 2011
C.Proietto - The Man From Amalfi
I-405 UCLA Rampage - 11/22/66
Moab Rim RV Campark - 2011
C.Proietto Paints the Amalfi Coast
C.Proietto - Modern Impressionist
I-405 Mulholland Drive Bridge
Moab Pile - Countdown to Disaster
Wigwam Village - Holbrook, AZ
Kathy Hemenway - World Citizen
Desert View Mobil - Needles, CA
Mojave Desert Transit in May 2011
Colorado River Basin At Risk - Ch.4
Holbrook, AZ Water Crisis - Ch. 3
Holbrook Basin, AZ Potash - Ch. 2
Little Colorado River Basin - Ch. 1
Port Orford, Oregon - Tsunami
Hope for Atlantis - Chapter 4
Future of Atlantis - Chapter 3
The New Atlantis - Chapter 2
Atlantis, Myth or Fact? - Chapter 1
Kevin Rutherford - Freightliner RV
WindSong - Ericson 35 Sailboat
Moab Pile - The Mill Tailings Train
Moab Pile - Here Comes the Flood
24-Hours of Moab 2010 - The Race
24-Hours of Moab 2010 - The Start
24-Hours of Moab 2010 - Pre-Race
Moab, Utah - Winter Snowstorms
Happy New Decade - 2011
Save Ken's Lake, Moab, Utah 2010
UPS Air - Moab, Utah Style
Crescent Junction & Brendel, Utah
Green River to Floy, Utah - Video
Moab Ranch - The Movie & Webcam
An Oregon Cascades Range Sunset
The Port at Port Orford, Oregon
Simi Valley, CA Two Live Webcams
Two New MoabLive.com Webcams
Ave. of the Giants, Humboldt, CA
Port Orford, OR - Of Bears & Deer
Goodbye Arizona - We'll Miss You.
Port Orford, OR - A Forest Home
Sun, Moon and the Chakras of Gaia
2010 Super Bowl Advertising
Navajo National Monument Sunset
California Redwoods Elk Herd
A New Decade - The 2010's Begin
Moab - Could Floods Happen Here?
Spanish Valley, UT - Wine & Water
24 Hours of Moab Race - 2009
CA - Rainforest or Dustbowl?
Edward Abbey House, Moab, UT
Kayenta, AZ to Blanding, Utah
U.S. Highway 89 N. to Navajoland
Quartzsite - Black Canyon City, AZ
Simi Valley, CA to Quartzsite, AZ
Phoenix, Moab, The Grand Canyon
Colorado River - A New Challenge
Moab, Utah - The Shafer Trail
2009 - Moab Live Webcam Update
Moab, Utah - Potash Road, Part 2
Moab, Utah - Potash Road, Part 1
SITLA Deal Threatens Uintah Basin
Moab Wildfire Near Pack Creek, UT
Moab Ranch - Plasma Flow Event
Mill Creek Canyon Hike - Part Two
Mill Creek Canyon Hike - Part One
Memorial Day 2009, Burbank, CA
A Happy Ending for the Moab Pile?
The Old Spanish Trail - New Again
Mesquite, Nevada - Boom or Bust
Larry L. Maxam - An American Hero
Winter Camping in the Desert 2009
Theory of Everything - Part Four
Theory of Everything - Part Three
Theory of Everything - Part Two
Theory of Everything - Part One
Canyonlands Field, Moab, Utah
Access New Energy Now - 2008
The Four Corners States - Part 5
The Four Corners States - Part 4
The Four Corners States - Part 3
The Four Corners States - Part 2
The Four Corners States - Part 1
BC Buckaroos in Panama
Elton John T-shirt, Now Available
Arches National Park Threatened
BC Buckaroos Are Heading South
San Francisco, A New Energy City?
Seven Mile Canyon, Craig Childs
Matheson Wetlands Fire, Moab, UT
24-Hours of Moab Bike Race Finish
24-Hours at Moab Bike Race, Start
New York - The New Atlantis
Translate to Any Language Now
Marina del Rey, Summer Weekend
Seattle Shines in the Summertime
Oregon Battles With Itself - 2008
The Motor Yacht, Princess Mariana
Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park
The Mojave National Preserve, CA
Navajo National Monument, AZ
La Sal Mountains Loop Road, UT
The Moab Rim, Above and Below
Colorado Riverway Recreation, UT
Hovenweep - Twin Towers Standing
Aztec, New Mexico - Ancient Ruins
Kin Klizhin Ruin at Chaco Canyon
The Spirit of Pueblo Bonito, NM
Chaco Canyon, NM Sand and Rain
Homolovi Ruins State Park, AZ
ATM Bank Robbery Made Easy
Outstanding World Citizens, Fiji
Planning an Archetype Party
Sir Elton John - The Lost Concert
Start Writing Your Own Blog
My Unification Theory - 2008
Frito-Lay Beach-Trash Explosion
The Great Attractor, Revealed
Vibrational Thought & String Theory
The Long Run - Eagles Tribute Band
2006 Midterm Elections, Revisited
The Lost Murals of Denis O'Connor
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 10
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 9
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 8
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 7
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 6
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 5
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 4
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 3
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 2
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 1
Save Natewa Bay, Fiji Islands
The Fiji Islands - Paradise Lost?
Face on Mars
How Water Helped Make The West
Yahoo! - Fighting Its Last Battle?
Helium Gas, Neither Earth nor Mars
Megatrend vs. Meganiche - 2007
German Hydrogen Bomb Ready
Passing The $100,000 Bill
Google Wins - Microsoft Withdraws
A.Word.A.Day, You Ought to Know
San Fernando Valley Winemaking
Divine Inspiration, Or Nearly So
Japanese Win The Space Race
2007 eCommerce - Made Easy
Discovering The Great Reflector
Navajo National Monument, Arizona
Moab, Utah Memories - 2007
Fall Color, Silverton, Colorado
Autumn Equinox in the Rockies
Hasta la Vista, Taos, New Mexico
Megatrends 2010 - The Book
The Quantum Leap, New Mexico
Chaco Canyon Memories 2007
Flame-Out in Phoenix, Arizona
Annals of Homeland Security '07
Quartzsite, AZ - RV Camping
The Quantum Leap Celebration
Welcome to my new weblog 2007!

Colorado River
Current Events
Fine Art
Moab, Utah
Mojave Desert
Personal Articles
Railroad Safety
South Pacific

‹‹ May 2024 ››
Wk M T W T F S S
18 1 2 3 4 5
19 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
20 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
21 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
22 27 28 29 30 31    

Please visit our other sites in the MoabLive network.


© 2007 JamesMcGillis.com - All rights reserved. | Contact Me | Privacy Policy | Sitemap | RSS | Atom | Admin | Design: Nicholas Savalas | Author | Publisher | Top